Tales of Two Planets: Stories of Climate Change and Inequality in a Divided World

Penguin. Apr. 2020. 320p. ed. by ed. by John Freeman. ISBN 9780143133926. pap. $18. NAT HIST
This anthology showcases personal responses to climate change through literature. Freeman (Tales of Two Americas) has collected 36 reports, essays, poems, and stories from writers such as Margaret Atwood, Lauren Groff, Edwidge Danticat, Mohammed Hanif, Tahmima Anam, Eka Kurniawan, and Chinelo Okparanta. Many of the articles in this varied anthology recall childhood play in remnants of wild landscapes, now erased by settlements or reduced to wasteland. The disruptive effects of unstable weather patterns are also a recurring theme. Most pieces take place in the present, though two stories inhabit a dystopian near future. In his introduction, Freeman predicts 300 million climate refugees will be on the move by the end of the century. While sadness and anger are prevalent moods, there is also dark humor. Aminatta Forna’s essay “Bruno” describes how a long-captive chimpanzee led an escape of his troop from a fenced sanctuary for endangered wildlife, becoming a folk hero in Sierra Leone.
VERDICT This work will suit readers curious about the long-standing and wide-ranging effects of climate change, as lived and experienced by writers around the world.

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